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Proposed Congressional Redistricting Lines Keep Ventura Split

By Rebecca Wicks
Ventura Breeze
Jul. 27, 2011

With another controversial proposed redistricting map presented, one thing seems sure to remain the same: Ventura will stay divided – between two congressional districts, that is. Heated debate has swirled around this year’s redistricting project which has proven to be a very involved and at times confusing process.

Currently, the majority of Venturans living along the coast and southwest of Main Street belong to District 23, which encompasses much of the greater coastal area through Santa Barbara just past Cambria. The congressional district is represented by Democrat Lois Capps. The rest of Ventura belongs to the 24th District which includes most of Ventura County sans Oxnard.

The newly proposed districts would place more of Ventura into the 24th District. The only remaining areas staying in Capps 23rd District would be the Pierpont neighborhood north of Peninsula Street and most addresses southwest of Main Street but north of S. Evergreen Drive. The rest of Ventura from the Avenue through east Ventura would remain in or move to the 24th Congressional District.

Mayor Bill Fulton who was hoping to see all of the city of Ventura unified within one congressional district was disappointed in the most recent iteration of the lines.

“I understand when you get to the nitty gritty you have to draw the line somewhere, but I don’t like the fact that even a small part of our city is broken up” said Fulton. “The truth of the matter is for things like receiving state and federal resources, it will be better for Ventura if all boundaries – congressional, state assembly and state senate – line up together along city lines.”

City Manager Rick Cole has a different view on the matter believing being separated into two congressional districts means little for Venturans.

“The city nor the city council operates on a partisan basis,” said Cole. “Both [congressional representatives] pay attention to us – in some cases it may even be better to have two representatives pay attention to us.”

Perhaps the biggest headline for those Venturans who will belong to the 24th District is that their district will now be made up of a majority of Democrats. The 24th District is currently represented by 13-term Republican Elton Gallegly. The district is currently 41 percent Republicans and 35 percent Democrats. With the proposed changes – which leave Simi Valley out of the district – the numbers are exactly opposite: 41 percent Democrats and 35 percent Republicans.

This possible change has a number of people speculating that 24th District Congressional seat may be up for a Democrat to grab in the next election.

A handful of Democrats have been noted to have expressed interest in making a run for the seat that has remained firmly in Republican hands since 1993. Those who may be exploring the possibility of running in the upcoming election include former Ventura Mayor Richard Francis, Moorpark City Councilman David Pollock, Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Mary Anne Rooney, Supervisor Steve Bennett of Ventura and Thousand Oaks businessman Tim Allison.

Gallegly has not publicly stated if he will run again however, continues to collect donations for his campaign account where he has amassed more than $800,000. Capps has stated she will run for reelection regardless of how redistricting lines fall.

Final redistricting lines are scheduled to be approved and adopted on July 28. This will leave new candidates approximately 10 months to gather enough steam – and cash – to attempt to topple Gallegly if he chooses to run again.

Cole who is following the process with interest is optimistic about what a change might mean for the city of Ventura.

“When one [political group] is dominate, local government can get taken for granted,” said Cole. “Competitive districts are good for local government at least at the assembly and state level.”